SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Yonhap) — South Korean banks’ credit loans to individuals are set to spike for the third consecutive month in August due to soaring housing costs and other factors, industry data showed Monday.

Outstanding unsecured loans to individuals by five major lenders — KB Kookmin, Shinhan, Hana, Woori and NH Nonghyup — totaled 121.49 trillion won (US$102 billion) as of Thursday, up 1.29 trillion won from July.

Individual credit loans increased 2.67 trillion won in July and 2.84 trillion won in June, respectively.

July’s spike was attributed to surging home prices that prompted people to borrow from banks to buy apartments before prices rise further down the road.

Apartment prices in South Korea have been skyrocketing despite a series of government measures to keep them in check.

Analysts said the recent bullish stock market has sent retail investors taking out bank loans to invest, contributing partly to the surge in credit loans.

Also responsible was the coronavirus outbreak that forced jobless or furloughed people to borrow money from banks, they added.

The outbreak of COVID-19, which started in South Korea in late January, has battered the country’s economy by crimping exports and consumer spending.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy shrank 3.3 percent on-quarter in the April-June period, the slowest on-quarter growth since the 6.8 percent contraction in the first quarter of 1998.